A recent Health Affairs article examined how well health savings account (HSA) plan policyholders understood their plans’ coverage for preventive care. The article highlighted a survey of HSA plan enrollees, which found that only one in five policyholders knew that their plan provides coverage for preventive office visits, medical tests, and screenings before their deductible has been met.
An AHIP survey of research found that most HSA plans provide first-dollar coverage for preventive services, meaning that this care was provided free or with a modest co-pay. If you currently rely on an HSA plan for your health coverage, you may want to take some time to make sure that you understand your plan’s cost-sharing arrangement for preventive care so that you can take advantage of these important benefits.
As the Health Affairs article correctly points out, “For preventive care exemptions to be effective, however, consumers must know they exist.” Furthermore, the survey results showed that consumers who were not aware that preventive services were exempt from the deductible were significantly more likely to avoid care because of cost concerns.
According to the report:
- “In the case of office visits, 18.1 percent of respondents understood the cost-sharing arrangement, meaning that they knew preventive office visits were exempt from the deductible but nonpreventive office visits were not exempt from cost sharing. For medical tests, 10.4 percent correctly understood the cost-sharing arrangement.
- “Importantly this low awareness of preventive cost-sharing exemptions persisted across patients with different sociodemographic characteristics.
- “Overall, 18.6 percent of all respondents reported that they had delayed or avoided a preventive office visit because of its cost, even though for all respondents this type of office visit was exempt from their deductible and had no out-of-pocket charge. Similarly, 19.2 percent said that cost concerns caused them to avoid at least one of the preventive tests or screenings.”
Enrollment in HSA health plans has been steadily increasing since they became available to individuals in 2004, and today, more than 13.5 million Americans rely on HSA plans. As this coverage option continues to grow, it is important that consumers understand their plans in order take advantage of the valuable tools and benefits that HSA plans provide.